Quite similar to the way that he affects the Memphis Grizzlies, Marc Gasol is a catalyst and leader for Spain’s National Team, especially over the last few weeks while they’ve been competing at Eurobasket. Spain came into this tournament the favorites, but they won’t leave the champions.
On Friday, the Spanish team faced easily their stiffest competition of the elimination round when they were matched up with France. Despite the Spaniards jumping out to a big lead at halftime, the French fought back, took the game into overtime, and eventually came out with a win that advances them to the finals of the tournament.
Even in the loss, Gasol remained impressive. Through regulation and overtime, Gasol was on the floor for a ridiculous 41 minutes and put up and impressive line of 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three blocks while shooting 5-10 from the field and getting to the foul line 11 times, making nine of his attempts. However, that’s not at all the biggest concern of the Grizzlies regarding Friday’s semi-finals game.
At one point in the third quarter, Gasol got stripped in the post and dove for the loose ball. In the dive and the ensuing pile up, he did something to his shoulder that caused him obvious pain that he showed on his face. As people reached for the ball, he weakly threw the ball out of the pile and stayed bent over in pain.
At that time, Memphis had to be collectively having a panic attack at the thought of Gasol getting injured before the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season. Not only is he their starting center, but he’s arguably the most important player on the Grizzlies’ roster. He’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and one of their most important offensive players because of his ability to score and create for his teammates with interior passing.
After leaving the floor soon after the initial injury, Gasol returned to the floor soon after. The Grizzlies and Memphis fans can breathe easy for now. However, they might also want to hope that Spain lightens Gasol’s load in their final game of the tournament so a scare like this doesn’t happen again.
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